Going Deeper

Going deeper….

“God, who made the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands. “Nor is He worshiped with men’s hands, as though He needed anything since He gives to all life, breath, and all things. “And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings, “so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us;  “for in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, `For we are also His offspring.’  (Act 17:24-28 NKJ)

Paul is quoting a popular poet of the day, Aratus.  Aratus was immensely popular in Hellenistic society. Paul’s quote comes from a poem Phaenomena.

The Phaenomena appears to be based on two prose works—Phaenomena and Enoptron (Ἔνοπτρον “Mirror”, presumably a descriptive image of the heavens)—by Eudoxus of Cnidus, written about a century earlier. We are told by the 220px-Aratos_von_Soloibiographers of Aratus that it was the desire of Antigonus to have them turned into verse, which gave rise to the Phaenomena of Aratus; and it appears from the fragments of them preserved by Hipparchus, that Aratus has in fact versified, or closely imitated parts of them both, but especially of the first.

The purpose of the Phaenomena is to give an introduction to the constellations, with the rules for their risings and settings; and of the circles of the sphere, amongst which the Milky Way is reckoned. The positions of the constellations, north of the ecliptic, are described by reference to the principal groups surrounding the north pole (Ursa Major, Ursa Minor, Draco, and Cepheus), whilst Orion serves as a point of departure for those to the south. The immobility of the earth and the revolution of the sky about a fixed axis are maintained; the path of the sun in the zodiac is described; but the planets are introduced merely as bodies having a motion of their own, without any attempt to define their periods; nor is anything said about the moon’s orbit. The opening of the poem asserts the dependence of all things upon Zeus. From the lack of precision in the descriptions, it would seem that Aratus was neither a mathematician nor observer or, at any rate, that in this work he did not aim at scientific accuracy. He not only represents the configurations of particular groups incorrectly, but describes some phenomena which are inconsistent with any one supposed latitude of the spectator, and others which could not coexist at any one epoch. These errors are partly to be attributed to Eudoxus himself and partly to the way in which Aratus has used the materials supplied by him. Hipparchus (about a century later), who was a scientific astronomer and observer, has left a commentary upon the Phaenomena of Eudoxus and Aratus, accompanied by the discrepancies which he had noticed between his own observations and their descriptions. (Wikipedia)

Let us begin with Zeus, whom we mortals never leave unspoken.

For every street, every market-place is full of Zeus.

Even the sea and the harbor are full of this deity.

Everywhere everyone is indebted to Zeus.

For we are indeed his offspring …

Zeus was regarded by the Greeks as being the god of thunder who ruled from Mount Olympus; he was the God of gods. Paul turns that around to show that it is not Zeus, but Elohim, who is also known a Yahweh—the one who is close by.

About Terry Threadwell

Dr. Terry Threadwell has thirty five years ministry experience. Author, educator and Director of the Institute of Progressive Pentecostal Studies.
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